Category Archives: Goals

The Connection Project – Seek to Understand

Have you ever had one of those conversations where you know the other person is not listening to what you are actually saying? It makes me think of the “discussions” I had with my parents when I was trying to convince them my plan was a good one. The whole while they are talking I’m thinking about another angle to my argument, another way I can state my case. For all I know they were agreeing with me. I have no idea because I’m completely engrossed in my argument and how to best present it.

I’m much better at listening in a passionate conversation than when I was a teenager. But I still have plenty of room to grow. I’m more likely to catch myself now than I was then. My hope is someday I don’t have to catch myself. That listening to rebut is a thing of the past for me. It’s good to have goals right?

Being passionate about an event, a topic or an issue is a good thing! We need people who are passionate and willing to put themselves out there. It’s how almost all change happens. Passion is good. There has been an abundance of passion this past week alone. People are excited and scared, anxious and fearful, hopeful and relieved. It is all over the board with such intensity and emotion.

Listening is also good. Actually focusing on what someone is saying; their words their body language and their heart. (As an aside, remember, we aren’t all perfectly eloquent and certainly not all the time. Some times things come out all wrong. We phrase things in a way that can be interpreted differently. Considering the heart of the speaker helps avoid focusing on one phrase; getting stuck on semantics of a sentence.) Try really listening to understand what they are expressing. Hear what they are saying, not the clichés, not what you think they will say based on how you have categorized them, but what they are really sharing.

Stephen Covey’s 5th habit of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is seek first to understand, then to be understood. It makes sense. If you want to connect with someone, you need to understand where they’re coming from. What motivates them, what drives their passion, how did they come to the view they have? All important details in really connecting. You can assume all day or you can really try to understand. You may find you can actually relate to and empathize with how they landed where they did.

There are some great resources out there about active listening. You can find tools and tips to help you focus. In fact the Department of State website is a good place to start.

This week’s assignment: Focus on understanding the person who disagrees with you. Spend time in conversation, real conversation, with someone with whom you disagree. Listen to their words, their body language, their heart. Remember they may not be the most eloquent. Try really listening to understand what they are expressing.

From last week: There were certainly plenty of opportunities over the past week to look at how we categorize people. From political party to marches and even some football! How many times did you categorize someone else and make assumptions about them? Be honest. Did you catch yourself at all? It’s hard when you feel very passionate. We are all a work in progress. I’ve read a lot of comments on a lot of posts. Many of them are truly awful. Things people would never (or certainly should never) say to each other. On the other hand, there are a few of my friends who are very skilled at discussing issues without attacking individuals. I am learning from them.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Advice, Goals, Intention, Lifestyle

On the Precipice

There are times in your life when you realize, you are at a junction, a turning point. When life is about to change in big and irreversible ways. There is a certain sense that washes over you and makes you take pause and think deeply.

The first time I remember this happening was when I got engaged. I was so excited, and yet realized life would never be the same. It was a good change and I was most definitely happy. But the truth was, life would change. That in between time of anticipation is rather daunting.

The same thing happened as we neared the end of our first pregnancy. And our second. And our third. Life was about to change drastically. All joyous and happy changes, but yet a touch of mourning for the life that you are leaving behind. The freedom you had before children giving way to the joy of watching all their firsts. Wondering how you could possibly love another child as much as you do the first. (It is possible!) Never regret, but reflection, and a bit of sadness.

Like the time between getting a contract on a house and closing. The in between can be brutal. The anticipation of what’s to come, the hint of second guessing choices, the excitement of the change.

Then there is taking the last kid to college. All the same emotions, the fears, the anticipation, the reminiscing, the hope, the guilt, the confidence. As one of my favorite authors, Jen Hatmaker would say, “we have all the feels here” and then some. I find it interesting that an event can be so contradictory, so emotion filled. But it seems to be a theme in life and growth.

There is much to look forward to – I have started my Empty Nest Year 1 Bucket List. I can’t wait to do all the things on that list. (I might even add -Get back to blogging – to that list!) Things we have put off doing for years or just weren’t an option when the kids were home. We have plans to attend lots of College marching band performances (aka football games). We have a trip planned and are working on a girls weekend, and couples weekend away with friends. It is exciting and freeing and going to be so much fun! We’ve put in a lot of hard work to get here. We did our parenting job and so far it appears we did a decent job. (The proof of good parenting is not immediate- it’s really a bit of a crap shoot. You do what you think is right and years later get glimpses of what worked and what missed the mark or was completely forgotten.) This is our time. Our chance to remember who we were as a couple. Way back in the day. And figure out who we are together today, sans kids. It is good!

And yet there is the hint of melancholy, the tear just about to fall. It has been 22 years since we have lived alone together. By far, most of our adult lives we have had these men in our home. We loved the noise, the chaos, the tension and laughter. We were good as a family, together, every day. I’m going to miss those interactions. I will miss hearing about their day, knowing their schedules and daily activities. Hearing about who they are spending their days with. It is right and good. They are supposed to leave home. I get that. They will be fine. We will be fine. I will be fine. But this is another one of those moments when I stand on the precipice of change. Change I asked for (‘cause who wants their kids to live at home forever?!), but change none the less.

Tomorrow will be a sad day. And a happy day. I will cry. Maybe a lot. And I will laugh, definitely  a lot. I think it is the right thing to do to honor all those feelings. To embrace the sadness and let the tears roll. To laugh together and make our own plans to fill the free time we are about to have. And hey, we have kittens so that’s almost the same, right?

Post Script: After I wrote this, I got to thinking about when Oldest Son left for college. I remember sobbing as I wrote. It was so hard. I went back and read the post. Made me tear up again and laugh too. Second Son’s departure was indeed as painful or more so than Oldest. I just couldn’t write during that time. I can tell you in a couple of days if Youngest Son’s truly was easier or not.
What I hadn’t even contemplated when writing that post, was having Oldest Son get married! A whole other range of emotions! (And, yes, I like her a lot:)!)
Yes, I deserve some kind of grace for having this much change in less than a month! And wine. I deserve wine!

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Goals, Intention, Legacy, mom, Parenting, Senior Year

Losing It Together

I shared in my last couple posts about my healthy lifestyle changes. I told you my Hubby joined the gym with me. He has been using the same journaling app that I have and has been just as committed as me at making changes. I thought it might be fun to share some of the ups and downs of losing weight as a couple – good bad and sometimes ugly.

I can’t imagine trying to do this without the support of my spouse. I hear of people who prepare separate meals for their family while they are “dieting” or trying to lose weight. I have to ask myself, why isn’t what you are eating appropriate for your family? I just couldn’t do that so I’m thankful I don’t have to.

Having someone to workout with really helped me get started and be consistent! I really felt like that first month was critical to long-term success. For me, creating that “habit” of daily workout was so important. We started during Christmas break when I wasn’t working. This made it easy to fit in and I could be super flexible. This meant there was no reason not to go every day. And then when I did go back to work after that first week, we didn’t have much in the way of evening activities. That meant I worked out 27 days in January. Definitely set a precedent for myself. I don’t know if I would have pulled that off without him!

I also have friends who belong to the same gym and love meeting up with them to mix up my workout. It’s great to try a new class with a buddy or teach each other new strength techniques.

We do hold each other accountable…in a good way. After 20+ years we have a pretty good idea of when to push and when to get out of the way:). We both have the expectation of working out 5-6 times a week, it’s just a matter of when. Sometimes together and sometimes not.

But there is a downside as well. Hubby is 6′ tall. I am 5’5″. When we started, he weighed .6 pound more than me. Hard pill for me to swallow.

Then there’s the part where men seem to lose weight more quickly than women. Or as I describe it, “He can look at a salad and lose 5 pounds! Not gonna lie, this was really frustrating in the beginning. By my dear Hubby knew that. He didn’t talk much about where he is or what he has lost. When I was struggling to bump past a plateau at 12 pounds, Youngest Son asked if I knew how much Hubby has lost. I had no idea. He was at 16 pounds down and didn’t share it with me because he knew I was struggling. Isn’t that kind?! I thought so. Right after a punched him a little:).

There’s a bit of healthy competition as well. How many minutes on the elliptical? What incline on the treadmill? How many reps? I think it all keeps us pushing ourselves to give it our all.

We also approach the results of our weight loss differently. He hasn’t bought one new piece of clothing. When he was down 21 pounds he was still wearing the same clothes. Can you say baggy pants?! I, on the other hand, am enjoying trying on new sizes. And I’ve pulled a couple of items out of my doesn’t-fit-me-anymore bin. I have given myself incentives/rewards at 10 and 15 pounds lost, then just started buying clothes…a lot. That doesn’t motivate him.

Over the last 2 months some things have become more challenging. End of school year activities have ramped up making it harder to fit in exercise. We’ve had more celebrations with food that require planning ahead and making good choices. We have realized that choosing to be healthy and incorporate regular exercise requires being a bit selfish. I have to make time to go to the gym when I can and sometimes that means not going to an event or not being home for dinner until later. You really have to choose to make time for it and that means not using that time for something else.

We are exercising separately much more often not. It’s been rare for us to go to the gym together lately. Middle Son is home from college and goes with one of us part of the time. It helps having someone else there.

Hubby is still ahead of me on the weight loss. He still hasn’t bought clothes (I’ve bought him a few things and he’s pulled some out of the old doesn’t fit anymore boxes.) I’m a little more OK with it than I was in the beginning. I know I’m in this for the long haul. I have a lot more weight to lose, but feel good about the permanent changes I’ve made.

Recently, I had about a 2 week hiatus from recording what I ate. Between travel and busy schedules, I just chose to take a break. I exercised less, but tried to make sure I snuck in a little more activity when I could. It resulted in a 1.6 lb loss. That tells me I’ve made some permanent lifestyle changes! I’m back in the swing and mixing things up a bit – some running, more core work and trying hard to get my arms ready for sleeveless shirts:).

Here is a 5 month pic comparison of us. When I saw these two together – wow! I can see the difference. Feels good!

5 month progress

5 month progress

As it says, I am down 29.4 (there is another massage waiting for me at 30- come on 30!!) and he is down 37! My BMI is down 4.4 (still in the obese category). I’ve lost 7.5″ off my bust, 6.25″ off my waist, 5″ off my hips, 1.5″ off my neck and 3″ off my quads. Making progress.

4 Comments

Filed under Goals, Health, Intention, Lifestyle

Healthy – Part 1

I feel healthy.

Really.

And I don’t think I’ve ever said that before. Part of me wants to go back and change that to I’m feeling better than I used to. It’s a little less bold. A little safer and maybe not putting myself out there quite so much.

But here’s the back story.

I have never been thin. Or even average. I’ve typically been the heaviest among my friends. On the BMI scale, well I am beyond the obese threshold. I’m not at a loss to explain it, I know why. There are myriad reasons; I love (some) food, I come from hearty stock, I hate running, I have a super busy life, I’ve had my share of stress. You see, there are reasons.

Honestly, I’ve known I needed to make changes for a long time. It was obvious. I also know me pretty well. After all I’ve lived with me for a lot of years! I knew my heart just wasn’t in it. I just couldn’t commit to any plan. It wasn’t about knowing how to do it. It was about being committed to doing it. I lost a significant amount of weight 10+ years ago. And gradually, I gained it all back…and more. I refuse to do that again. It’s disheartening. Devaluing. It’s failure you wear for all the world to see. And to judge. Weight is one of those things we all have an opinion about. We all know how to lose weight; burn more calories than you eat. Simple.

Except it’s not. Food is such a huge part of our culture. We use food as rewards for everything. We celebrate every milestone…with food. We mark every right of passage with a “special” meal. We gather for a relaxing evening with friends…over dinner. And let’s face it, you can’t live without it. I’m not “addicted to food”, I personally don’t subscribe to that thinking. I don’t think it’s an addiction. It’s a choice. But either way you look at it, that vice is something every one of us has to face every day to stay alive.

And exercise takes time. I’m like millions of Americans in that I sit at a desk all day. I borrowed a fitbit from a friend for a few weeks. It was discouraging. On a typical day, without changing my habits, I think the max I ever reached was 6,000 steps. The average was probably closer to 3500-4000. I don’t move at work. 8 hours of every day I’m sitting. And another hour in my car commuting. Getting 30+ minutes a day of exercise takes effort. It takes making a plan and following it. Every day. For forever. That’s a commitment. And to a couch potato…daunting.

Most of you can probably relate on some level. Living healthy takes desire, commitment, follow through and time. I don’t think you can be successful without all four. At least I know I can’t.

I’d like to say I prayed about this for a long time. But by “prayed about it” I mean thought about it often, wished it so and hoped God knew my heart. It was just on my mind a lot. I remember even telling a friend, “I’m waiting for the switch to flip.” That’s really what I needed. That tipping point where your desire overshadows the inconvenience and fear.

My tipping point came on December 29, 2014.

But this post is already very long, so I’ll share the first 3 months of my journey tomorrow.

Leave a comment

Filed under Goals, Health

Not a Dreamer After All

I used to fancy myself a dreamer. A possibility thinker. I remember the ambitions I had as a teen. I was going to move away, to bigger and better things. Blaze my own trail and leave a lasting mark on the world. Maybe international business? Live abroad? The skies were wide open and the possibilities were endless.
Somewhere along the way, my world shrunk. The ideal became a little less lofty and I started to think more about what is attainable. I began thinking in terms of what was reasonable and realistic. Sort of the “Let’s face it you’re never going to…” mentality.
Somewhere along the way between the world-is-your-oyster high school years and the middle-aged, near-empty-nester year, I became a realist.
Maybe it was becoming a parent, or buying a house or some other step of adulthood that changed me. But it’s ok. For me. It’s ok to think practically, to be realistic about the future.
However, I think it does my kids a disservice when I can’t embrace their dreams. When I burst their bubbles with my “realistic” views on life. It limits them. It squelches their creativity and instills doubt.
In my effort to paint an honest picture of life, to give them a realistic perspective on what the grown up world is like, I take away the option to dream. The freedom to dream the big, hairy, audacious dreams. The ones that scare the bejeebers out of you and excite you at the same time.
I have only recently come to realize this about myself. I have a dear friend who lets her kids dream. In fact she supports their dreams. And prays for their dreams. Even the big, unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky dreams! I admire that. And yet I don’t do it.
It’s hard to shut off the logical, ordered, down-to-earth, focus-on-what-is-realistic part of my brain and engage the dreamer again.
We all need to dream! Especially young people. There is a great, big, world out there and the ability to envision yourself changing it is priceless. Without the belief that you can make your dreams come true, what do you have? What pushes you, drives you and makes you revise that idea/paper/design one more time? What makes you reach a tiny bit farther, try that move one more time, reach out to one more person?
We must be able to dream.
We must be able to create and nurture our own dreams without doubt standing behind us whispering in our ear.
I don’t want to be the doubt for my kids. I want to be the voice in their head that says, “If this is what I really want, I’m going to make it happen!”
So go, my sons, dream really big dreams! Imagine, what if…! Put your heart into your dreams, work your 10,000 hours! Become the expert you want to be!
I believe in you!

1 Comment

Filed under Advice, Family, Goals, Legacy, Parenting

Looking Out From Atop the Plateau

I took a break from “dieting” from Thanksgiving to Christmas. By that I mean I didn’t count calories and I didn’t sweat over having some holiday goodies. I just tried to be reasonable. And apparently that worked. Within a week after Christmas, I was back to my pre-Thanksgiving weight. Actually Thanksgiving day pre- dinner weight:). I’m proud of how I handled what could be a really challenging time of year. And I think it goes back to that 80/20 rule. For me, it’s about changing my mindset. That it is ok to not be perfect every day. And a little misstep doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the towel. It is about making choices every day. Do I want the extra helping? Maybe I do, but if I decide to it will be because I thought it through and made a conscious choice. It will be intentional.

So I recovered from the holidays pretty quickly, but since then….ufda! I don’t seem to be able to get any traction. I’m doing what I did before, with no results.  I’ve actually added in some exercise now and then. Grrr… I know this happens. It will work again, it’s just frustrating waiting. I decided to track a few other things that I want to accomplish so the number on the scale isn’t my only motivation.

I made a colorful chart to track my progress. Because I like colorful charts:)! I’m trying to build a chain of  good habits. I have goals for weight, water, calories, activity minutes, reduced soda, servings of fruits and vegetables, and hours of sleep. I have progressive targets for each. Trying to step myself up a little at a time in each of those areas. It helps. The pounds still aren’t where I would like them, but I feel good about the other pieces. I’m drinking much more water and less soda. I’ve started doing some consistent minutes of activity and actually eating fruits and veggies. The sleeping part is tough. I can get really distracted at night and lose track of time. Suddenly it’s midnight and I get up before 6. I think getting a good night’s sleep will help my overall health too.

I have plateaued, but I’m still plugging away. I have an 8 week goal and I need the scale to move! I’m sure it will…all in good time:).

1 Comment

Filed under Goals, Health, Lifestyle

Intention

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of a word for the year. Have you heard this idea? Choosing a word to define a time in your life. Or choosing a word to live  your life by. I haven’t done this before, but have been intrigued by the idea.
I think the word that would define the last year is capacity. I feel like it was a year of being stretched to capacity. Of doing everything in my capacity. Really maxed out. Not all in bad ways, but still maxed out.

I didn’t really know I was thinking about a word for this year. It came to me much more organically than that. I’ve been mulling it over for almost a month. After much thought I’ve decided my word for this year is INTENTION. It is such an integral component of where I see myself going.

I want to live my life intentionally; not waiting around to see what happens or making decisions in isolation. I want to think things through in the larger context of my life. I want to move my life forward making progress toward my goals. I want to move forward in a deliberate way, knowing that the things I do are things I have chosen. Changing from reacting to all that happens around me, to intentionally choosing my path. Owning how I spend my time, how it reflects my priorities and passions.

I want to make choices, carefully considering the options. Actually making decisions about the best options. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in life. To be like a tiny leaf on a rapid-flowing river. Bouncing along, out of control. I don’t want out of control. I want intentioned. deliberate. purposeful. It feels right. To make decisions in the bigger context of my life and my world.

I’m not sure what happens from here. Maybe I put it on the wall in my office and my home. Maybe I look for inspiration about my word. I don’t know. I do know that I’ve been sitting with it for a few weeks and it feels right.

2013 word of the year: Intention

2 Comments

Filed under Goals, Intention, Lifestyle